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What Is the True Cost of Living in Chicago, Illinois

Relocation to Chi-Town can be a dream coming true in many ways. The city has gone a long way from the days of bootleggers, speakeasies, and Tommy guns, all of which made it (in)famous. The main concern for people of today is the cost of living in Chicago and how it compares to other major US cities. So stay with us and learn all the relevant data.

What Can You Expect to Earn in Chi-Town?

America’s third-most-populous city is a relatively expensive place. Its prices go above the national average in almost each of the main categories (housing, groceries, utilities, transportation). Still, don’t let that dissuade you from moving to Chicago.

Chi-Town ranks among the best local and metropolitan economies in the US. It is where the headquarters of companies like Boeing, United Airlines, McDonald’s, Caterpillar, or Walgreens Boots Alliance are located. All in all, it has 12 Fortune 500 companies and 17 Financial Times 500 companies. Therefore, you can imagine that the job market is up-and-coming and highly competitive.

The average salary in Chi-Town stands at around $69,000 per year, which is not bad when you compare it to some other cities. Not surprisingly, software engineers are on top with an average paycheck of around $82,000. Trailing behind are various managerial positions and finance and data analysts. If you wish to learn what kind of salary you might expect in your line of work, use an online calculator. In case you are moving for work, don’t miss the opportunity to ask the employer all the relocation questions.

Since it’s not that difficult to navigate through the expected costs when you have a good and well-paid job, let’s get on with the business at hand, namely, where you’ll spend what you earn after hiring a Chicago moving company and relocating.

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Housing And Renting Prices

The importance of having a roof over your head can’t be overstated. In Chi-Town, you’ll have to splash more cash for it, though. Your new home will be around 56% more expensive than the national average. That goes whether you opt for paying the rent or buying a house.

Monthly rent in the downtown area, or in some of the best places to live in Chicago, such as Lincoln Park or River North, goes from $1,900 up to $3,500, depending on the number of bedrooms. Renting outside the center will cost you a bit less, in the region of $1,200 to $2,200.

If you would rather buy a home, prices for 10.8 square feet stand around $4,000 for apartments downtown, and around two grand for housing units outside the center. The annual interest rate on mortgages for twenty years stands at 4.23 percent.

Of course, you can always find some of the best house hunting tips and try to catch a steal. The general advice is to sort out what you own, especially if you are moving to another state alone. Then, after using an online calculator to estimate the value of household goods, you may decide to sell some things and boost your moving budget. The rest that, for one reason or another, can’t come with you, can be safely put in storage.

Utility Costs

This is where Chi-Town is cheaper than the national average. The utility index is lower not only than the national one but the entire state of Illinois, too. If you live in a 915 sq ft apartment, the monthly bill for electricity, water, heating, cooling, and garbage collecting will amount to around $130.

For a reasonably fast internet connection, with unlimited data transfer, you’ll have to splash around $65 every month.

Use an online calculator to compare data on the cost of living index in Chi-Town, how much you’ll pay for a home or for rent

What You’ll Spend on Food and Consumer Goods in Chi-Town, Illinois

Food stands right next to housing in terms of importance for one’s life, and accordingly, in the slice of your monthly income that will be spent on it. The index of grocery prices tops the national average, though you can usually have pizza and beer at a lower price. But let’s start with the basics.

One-quarter of a gallon of milk can be purchased in the supermarket for less than a dollar. One pound loaf of bread comes at around $3. Bottled water is usually slightly more than $2. Carton of twelve eggs comes at approximately $2.3, while two pounds of rice cost a bit more than four bucks.

When it comes to meat, two pounds of chicken breasts can be acquired for around $10, while beef is a bit steeper, at around $14.

Fruits and vegetables are in abundance in Windy City’s supermarkets and farmer’s markets. Two pounds of apples is about $5, oranges are at $4, while bananas can be bought for $1.5. On the vegetable aisle, tomatoes go for around $4, potatoes are $2.5, as are the onions. The price of lettuce is 1.5 dollars per head.

As there’s no excellent meal without a tasty sip, you may buy mid-range wine for 14 dollars, and beer, either domestic or imported, for two bucks.

If you decide to eat in one of the many restaurants in Chicago, the check for a meal in a cheaper place will be around $15. If you choose to go just a bit more upscale, prepare at least 65 bucks for a three-course meal for two. Beyond the mid-level range, prices only go up.

Beer in a restaurant or a pub would come at five to seven bucks, soda at two dollars, and a cup of a cappuccino a bit over four.

Dressing up is not cheap in Chi-Town. A pair of jeans comes at around 45 bucks, as is a dress by a well-known brand. Sneakers can be purchased for $90 or so, while leather shoes start from 115 dollars.

Much of the toiletries (shower gels, hair shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste, etc.) stand at less than five bucks. After a haircut, you’ll have 25 dollars less in your pocket.

And even though they are forced into ever narrower spaces, we can’t forget the smokers. If you have the habit, a pack of Marlboro will cost you 13 bucks.

Healthcare Expenditures

Unfortunately, we all get sick every once in a while. When that happens, a short visit to a doctor will take 90+ dollars. Medication is at eight bucks for pills against the cold, while the price for the pack of antibiotics is around 15 dollars. The overall healthcare index in the city is on par with the national one.

Unavoidable Part of the Cost of Living in Chicago – Taxes

A wise man once said that nothing is certain except death and taxes. It’s no different in Chi-Town. Always remember that one of the most famous residents of the town, one notorious Al Capone, went to prison not for murders and other violent crimes he committed, but because of tax evasion.

Property tax is the second-highest in the US, at 2.32%, so be ready to give a bit more to the IRS, primarily if you settled in some of the best neighborhoods in Chicago. Therefore, moving to a smaller home might be a smart long-term investment.

Income tax is the same as in the rest of the IL, at 4.95%. When it comes to the sales taxes, in Chi-Town, it stands at 10.25%, when state and local taxes and surtaxes are calculated in.

There is also a meal tax, paid whenever you eat in a restaurant. It ranges from 0.25% in the outskirts to 1.25% in high-end restaurants downtown. That amount is added to the existing sales tax.

Using streaming services, such as Netflix, invokes the so-called “Cloud Tax.” Basically, it’s a 9% surtax.

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Windy City’s Offering of Amenities and Leisure Activities

If one thing is undoubtedly positive in moving to a big city to build a new home, it’s the sheer number of the best amenities and opportunities. If you are moving with kids, be assured that Chicago schools are worth their price. If you wish to leave your child in kindergarten, that’ll be around 1,200 dollars per month. The price of the best international primary schools tops 18,000 bucks per year.

Things to do in Chicago are plenty and diverse so that everybody can find something for themselves and avoid getting relocation depression. If you are a sports type, you can enroll in a local gym for a monthly fee of $50 to $80. To rent a tennis court for one hour, prepare 25 to 30 bucks, depending on the day.

Going to the movies with a significant other or a friend will amount to around 25 bucks for two tickets. Theaters are more expensive, with tickets for two going up to more than 230 dollars.

Music lovers may enjoy the summer festival Lollapalooza, but also the concerts of the symphony orchestra.

You’ll Need to Get Around in Illinois Cities

Once in a different town, you’ll need to move around the place. The choice you have in Chi-Town is between driving a car, taking a cab, or commuting using public transportation.

If you wish to drive, you may opt for an auto shipping service to bring your old car after understanding how car shipping works, or to buy a vehicle. If the latter is the case, cars in the range of Golf can be purchased for around 35,000 dollars. Aside from gas expenses (with one gallon being almost 3.5 dollars), you’ll have to add an annual City Vehicle Sticker to a budget calculator. Sticker for a regular passenger car costs around 90 dollars, while one for an SUV goes about 140 dollars. A taxi will most likely charge you around 20 bucks per five miles.

Last but not least, public transport. A monthly ticket costs $112, and it is valid for buses and subway. Needless to say, the transport index is higher here than in the rest of the country.

Sports In Chi-Town, IL

For fans of watching sport, while not necessarily taking part in it, few cities can compete with Chi-Town. Let’s start with a great baseball rivalry between Cubs and White Socks. Cubs hold the record in title drought length with 108 years between their World Series titles in 1908 and 2016 (regular source of taunts in every single TV show taking place in Chicago). Still, they sell the most expensive tickets in MLB, at almost 60 bucks per game. Sox, on the other hand, keep their prices lower, at around $25.

Basketball fans that are coming to Chi-Town have missed the golden age of the Bulls with His Flying Majesty and his co-stars, but the team is still there. Tickets for games at the United Center went through a sharp rise in recent years and now stand at about 85 to 90 dollars.

Bulls “roommates” in the United Center, NHL franchise Blackhawks, charge tickets from 11 bucks. Of course, if you wish to sit in one of the best places in the stands, prepare to splash up to ten grand.

Bears come in the last place, with the cheapest ticket at around 110 dollars, while the median ticket price is close to $200.

Use a calculator to figure out the true cost of living index for Chicago, Illinois, from food to transportation, and compare the data.

Cost of Living in Chicago Compared to Other Cities – Housing and Transport

We are at the end of our basic guide though the costs and prices in Chi-Town. And for the last part, let’s compare them with some of the other places in the US.

For starters, housing. Apartments in Windy City are more expensive than in neighboring towns, Philadelphia and Indianapolis, but a lot cheaper than in Los Angeles or New York. The same goes for monthly rents.

When it comes to the figures that are paid for public transport, commuting in Chi-Town is more expensive than LA but much cheaper than in New York.

Bottom Line

There you have it. After what you’ve read, there’s no reason not to pick up the phone and hire the best moving service around or figure out the cheapest way to move out of state. Before you do that, however, sift through the available data and compare it. In there lies the solution.